Monday, October 16, 2023

BEQ 4:25(Matthew) 


LAT 2:08 (Stella) 


NYT 2:37 (Sophia) 


The New Yorker 7:50 (Amy) 


Universal untimed (pannonica) 


USA Today tk (tk) 


WSJ 4:34 (Jim) 


Michael Lieberman and Andrea Carla Michaels’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up

Theme: MOVIE BUFFS, but with the term repurposed to mean buff guys in movies

New York Times, 10 16 2023, By Michael Lieberman and Andrea Carla Michaels

  • 17a [Hunky star of “Aquaman”] – JASON MOMOA
  • 31a [Hunky star of “Magic Mike”] – CHANNING TATUM
  • 40a [Hunky co-star of “Rocky III”] – MR T
  • 47a [Hunky co-star of the “Fast & Furious” franchise] – DWAYNE JOHNSON
  • 63a [Avid fans of cinema … or a punny description of 17-, 31-, 40- and 47-Across] – MOVIE BUFFS

This is a highly amusing theme, and one that I did not guess the revealer of until I got to it and laughed. I’m not sure the last time I heard the word “hunky” used unironically, so thanks NYT for the word choice there. I thought it was fun overall, and I liked the group of guys selected, who are all well-known for their buff-ness.

This is a proper-noun based crossword, which naturally will make it harder for some solvers. However, hopefully the fact that three of these movies came out in the last few years (and got a *lot* of buff guy advertisements) will help folks out. MR T is the only one who hasn’t been doing anything lately, but honestly his name is so short here that he’s basically a bonus answer and shouldn’t hinder anyone’s solve too much. My only other hold up was figuring out if the Fast and Furious clue was referring to DWAYNE JOHNSON or Vin Diesel – there are a lot of buff guys in that franchise.

Good longer stuff overall in the rest of the puzzle even with 5 theme answers! Loved GRADUATE, SEA LEGS, VITRIOL, CERAMIC. Also LASER TAG >>>> paintball. The only thing I really didn’t like in the puzzle was BY GUM – is this a thing? I only know “dadgum” and I’ve never even heard that in real life. I also did not love the [“Chopsticks ___ fork?”] for OR A, which felt a little forced.

Happy Monday all!

Jay Silverman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Denizens”—Jim’s review

Theme answers are familiar phrases that start with a type of bear. The revealer is BEAR DOWN (36d, [Put in extra effort, and a hint to the starts of the starred answers]).

Wall St Journal crossword solution · “Denizens” · Jay Silverman · Mon., 10.16.23

  • 3d. [*Cold weather driving hazard] BLACK ICE. Black bear.
  • 6d. [*Rhode Island school since 1764] BROWN UNIVERSITY. Brown bear.
  • 7d. [*Complete antithesis] POLAR OPPOSITE. Polar bear.
  • 16d. [*Flavorful garnish for a mulled drink] CINNAMON STICK. Cinnamon bear. I assumed a cinnamon bear was a type of sweet treat, but no, it’s an actual type of bear.

The revealer phrase seems like it would lend itself easily to some sort of trickiness, like an Across phrase turning Down at some point. So I was maybe a little surprised that there was none of that going on. I probably shouldn’t have been though, seeing how it’s a Monday.

Can’t say the theme excited me much, but it’s solid nonetheless.

There is some definite non-Monday fill here though, starting off at 1a with ALB. It took me just a few seconds to change this to BRB with BEAU and REAR at 1d and 2d respectively, and I’d bet there’s something better besides.

Elsewhere there’s the 1950s director George CUKOR, Italian DUOMO, the infinitive TO LIVE, Cheri OTERI, and LONG TONS. That’s too much iffy fill for my taste, especially in a Monday grid. I do like the colloquial “WE MADE IT!” though.

Clues of note:

  • 16a. [“Born Yesterday” director George]. CUKOR. I never heard the name, but you could at least clue him with respect to the film that won him the Oscar for Best Director: My Fair Lady.
  • 49a. [Christian, man of the cloth?]. DIOR. Nice clue there.
  • 62a. [How you might bravely solve this puzzle]. IN INK. Especially if you solve on a screen!

Solid theme, but I’d like to see the fill cleaned up a bit more. Three stars.

Lynn K. Watson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up

Los Angeles Times 10/16/23 by Lynn K. Watson

Los Angeles Times 10/16/23 by Lynn K. Watson

The revealer in this puzzle is as short as can be — just three letters. The central entry at 37A [Role-playing game with a 20-sided die, familiarly, and a feature of this puzzle’s four longest answers] is DND, short for Dungeons & Dragons. Every theme entry is a three-word phrase in which the first and last words start with D, and the middle word is AND (the ‘N’ in DND):

  • 17A [Move with a mouse, say] is DRAG AND DROP.
  • 27A [Farrelly Brothers comedy] is DUMB AND DUMBER.
  • 43A [Small, irregular amounts] is DRIBS AND DRABS.
  • 58A [Eat without paying the bill] is DINE AND DASH. Please don’t do this. It’s illegal for restaurant owners to make wait staff cover the loss when diners skip the bill, but based on what I hear at Tales From Your Server, it’s not a particularly uncommon practice.

Things I liked in this grid: CINDERELLA, COBWEBS, MIXED MEDIA. Something I wasn’t crazy about: ATILT and AGLOW in the same grid.

Matthew Stock’s Universal crossword, “Inflation Measures” — pannonica’s write-up

Universal • 10/16/23 • Mon • “Inflation Measures” • Stock • solution • 20231016

  • 60aR [Accumulating unnecessary rebounds or assists, and a hint to the last words of 18-, 27- and 47-Across] STAT PADDING. Those three answers add a letter to S-T-A-T.
  • 18a. [Electric guitar played by Jimi Hendrix] FENDER STRATocaster. Clue needs a ‘familiarly’-type qualifier.
  • 27a. [Kick into gear] JUMP START.
  • 47a. [Brutus Buckeye’s school] OHIO STATE.

So the extra letters are: R, R, E. I can imagine that R would stand for ‘rebound’ but does E relate to ‘assist’? Or are these letters just random, as it seems to me? If that’s the case, the theme doesn’t feel fully developed or coherent to me.

  • 4d [Concludes from evidence] INFERS. People confusing infer and insinuate seems to be a phenomenon that will never go away.
  • 11d [Contented cat’s sound] PURR. But not always, as I chronically remind everyone.
  • 32d [There’s no going back from this!] ONE-WAY TRIP. Yikes.
  • 17a [Quick suggestion?] RECommendation.
  • 52a [Family history diagram] PEDIGREE. I don’t believe that it’s the diagram, per se, but a diagram can represent a pedigree. N’est ce pas?
  • 68a [Unbeatable foes] NEMESES. Once again, I question the validity of the clue. Unbeatable, really?

Apologies if I sounded too nitpicky or critical, but that’s my take on this crossword. And maybe there’s residual fallout from being a bit bewildered by the theme. Again. maybe I’ve missed something that shores it all up.

Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap

New Yorker crossword solution, 10/16/23 – Collins

Now that’s what I’m looking for: a Monday New Yorker puzzle with smart fill and tricky cluing. 4.5 stars from me. Good stuff!

Fave fill: F-BOMB right off the start (heck, yeah!), multiple literary references, high-end vocab COLOPHONS ([Discoveries at the ends of books] is the old-school meaning, but publishing-house/imprint logos are the more familiar meaning), man with the IRON MASK, MENSCH, FORMULAIC, BONE MARROW (did you know the kidneys send the message to the marrow to make those blood cells?), Bob Marley’s ONE LOVE, DIAPER RASH and FRENCH ROAST (a match made in heaven!), “GOT YOUR NOSE,” “HOME AT LAST,” “GO EASY ON ME” (my mantra!), and RADIO EDIT.

Don’t know what WATER ROT is, precisely, but it was gettable.

A few clues:

  • 41a. [People with a reindeer-husbandry tradition], SAMI. Indigenous people of far northern Europe, predating the Vikings. Don’t call them “Laplanders” as they may find it insulting.
  • 5d. [“Dope”], “BET.” I’m too old and too white to get away with using this slang, but I basically understand it! I’m doing all right for myself.
  • 27d. [It’s cut to air], RADIO EDIT. The de-sweared version of a song that can play on commercial radio without requiring bleeps. For example, CeeLo Green’s 2010 hit “Fuck You” was “Forget You” on the radio, or the lyric “wet and gushy” for Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” more recently. Does Spotify include both versions or just the unexpurgated?

That’s all for me today.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — solution grid

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword solution, 10/16/2023

Short on time today, so just the grid. Areas around SLIPCOACH played tough, and I ended at SANDERS and HEEHEEHEE. How’d it go for you?

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19 Responses to Monday, October 16, 2023

  1. JohnH says:

    I wouldn’t have changed ALB in the WSJ to BRB, just run the puzzle on another day, especially if cleaning it up would have lost George Cukor, truly one of the greats. It’s hard to hate My Fair Lady, though it does verge on sickeningly sweet. But Wiki does a fine job of highlighting his successes up front.

    The Philadelphia Story is a lot of people’s favorite movie ever, and Gaslight has entered the (political) vocabulary in just the last few years. Adam’s Rib is the ultimate Tracy / Hepburn sparring movie, and Born Yesterday establishes Judy Holliday’s ditzy image as a style of comedy. Cukor’s version of A Star Is Born is memorable both for its overall story, with the older male star in decline, and Judy Garland at her most magnetic with “The Man That Got Away.”

    I couldn’t care less, though, about movies that show off some muscular male and little more, so the NYT meant nothing to me.

  2. pannonica says:

    WSJ: “cinnamon bear … [is] an actual type of bear.”

    Yes, but it’s a subspecies of the black bear, which is another theme entry.

  3. sanfranman59 says:

    Uni … I’m on the same page with you regarding today’s Universal puzzle, Pannonica. For some reason, it seemed to me that the constructor just thought STAT PADDING makes a good crossword puzzle revealer. It seemed pretty thin to me.

    Re PEDIGREE, I’m an amateur genealogist and that clue is imprecise, at best. A “PEDIGREE chart” is one of several common ways to display a family tree, but I’d never simply call it a PEDIGREE. Simply “Family history”, “Lineage” or “Ancestry” would be a much better clue. Interestingly though, here’s what has to say about the etymology: “Middle English pedegru, from Anglo-French pé de grue, literally, crane’s foot; from the shape made by the lines of a genealogical chart”.

    I wasn’t crazy about the clue for FENDER STRAT either since the model name is STRATocaster (though I know almost everyone refers to them as simply STRATs). I was pretty sure that Hendrix played a STRAT, but when the clue didn’t indicate an abbreviated name, I thought I was wrong. It seems like the clue should have somehow suggested a shortened form for the answer.

    • PJ says:

      I agree. I also paused at the clue for NEMESES. GO COMMANDO and ONE WAY TRIP were good, though.

    • Gary R says:

      Re: PEDIGREE – the clue/answer might work better in a non-human context. Over the years, my wife and I adopted several retired racing greyhounds. Each came with an NGA (National Greyhound Association) Pedigree document – a “family tree” type of representation of four or five generations of the dog’s lineage. My understanding is that this was an official document the NGA calls the “Pedigree.”

      I don’t know if the AKC, or whatever organization keeps track of racing horses, might use similar terminology.

  4. dh says:

    WSJ – the theme was lost on me – meaning only that I did the puzzle without noticing the theme, only discovering it after having read Jay’s review. However, as coincidence would have it, this morning I read a story about a black bear that wandered into a convenience store in Vancouver, calmly walked down the candy aisle, and stole a bag of gummy bears. The bear then sat down and ate the gummies while looking at the owner. “Gummy” would have been a good theme for this puzzle today.

  5. Eric H says:

    New Yorker: KAC is my favorite contemporary constructor, but this one was a little more challenging than his NYT Saturdays usually are.

    I got a bit stuck in the center, as LIAM Payne for the One Direction member didn’t sound quite right. I had never heard of Battle ROYALE and misunderstood the clue as being about a genre rather than a specific movie (not that it would have made any difference if I had read the clue right.)

    I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to get FRENCH ROAST. That’s what my husband and I have been drinking, almost exclusively, for the last 35 years.

    COLOPHON was a vaguely familiar word, but I never knew what that little blurb was called.

    But everything was gettable with enough crosses, which makes it my favorite kind of crossword puzzle.

    • JohnH says:

      I left feeling really old, because I could make almost nothing of countless entries. GOT YOUR NOSE, BET = dope, “stand-up type” for MENSCH (a familiar Yiddishism, of course), MASK as “adornment,” SAMI, and on and on and on.

      FWIW, I learned in book production to use COLOPHON for a page at the *front* of the book. And since when is a MOTH (crossing Bernie MAC) anywhere near distinguished from other insects by taking flight? Glad you found crossings and solving straightforward. I sure didn’t. I found it painful.

      • Eric H says:

        You’ve never seen someone grab a toddler’s nose and say “Got your nose?” You’ve missed out on hours of entertainment!

        MENSCH is such a great word. But I’m fascinated by Yiddish, and MENSCH is a wonderful contrast to putz, schmo, schmiel, etc.

        Sorry you found it painful. I can relate; I’m 20 minutes into BEQ’s themeless puzzle, and every time I think I am unstuck, I get stuck in a different place. I’m not quite ready to give up, but it’s not exactly fun.

    • David L says:

      I found it fairly easy by Monday NYer standards — similar to a Saturday NYT. It helped that I knew many of the names: ERNEST J. Gaines, GLENDA Jackson, LIAM Payne, GONERIL, plus the Man in the IRONMASK. SAMI and ONELOVE were gimmes too.

      The town I grew up had a small bookshop called The Colophon — so I knew that word long before I knew what it meant.

      My only misstep was URSA Minor, but it became apparent it wasn’t working, so out it went in favor of ASIA.

      No clue about the BET clue but by that point I didn’t need to understand it.

      • Eric H says:

        GLENDA Jackson and SAMI were gimmes. I have never read nor seen “King Lear,” so while I know that Goneril is one of his daughters, I didn’t know she’s the villain. I should have remembered Bob Marley’s ONE LOVE, but I had ONE LifE for too long. (The movie is a biopic, right?)

        Whenever I see the clue “___ Minor,” I put in the final A and wait for the crosses. It’s much easier for me to see other words if I don’t have a mistake sending me in the wrong direction.

        • JohnH says:

          I deal with __ Major that way, too. (I’m surprised ONE LOVE is familiar, since it’s not released, so we can’t have read reviews or rented it, no? Another difficulty in a puzzle that at least some of us found out there.)

          • Gary R says:

            I think Eric meant the Marley song “One Love” is familiar – so, a reasonable choice for a bio-pic subtitle.

            • Eric H says:

              Thanks, Gary.

              That’s what I meant. I know the song (sort of), but didn’t think of it at first when trying to imagine what the title of the upcoming movie is.

  6. Eric H says:

    Universal: I missed the theme while solving it, which probably added to my enjoyment. There was some nice fill: GO COMMANDO, FENDER STRAT, KINGPIN.

  7. Eric H says:

    BEQ: I got off to a decent start, got bogged down two-thirds through, and never managed to get any momentum after that. Which is pretty much my least favorite puzzle-solving experience.

    I should have remembered the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s name — the announcement was just last week — but I didn’t, and it was hard to parse as a Down answer. It doesn’t help that TAMABLE just looks wrong; if I were to spell it, I’d put an E in the middle. (And we’d both be right!)

    Suits UP before GEARS UP, even though the 1921 play had to be RUR.

    As far as I am concerned, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is a Who song, making the singer Roger Daltrey. (Eventually, I sort of remembered the Twisted Sister song, at least enough to get the answer.)

    And SESAME SEED BAGEL and everything BAGEL have the same number of letters. My husband bakes sesame seed bagels, and we eat them every Saturday — so why do I always think of everything bagels first?

  8. Brenda Rose says:

    Nemeses are unbeatable until you beat them. Then they are no longer nemeses.

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